Beginning Tuesday, Carbon County gardeners, farmers or anyone who has a question about anything plants can call a helpline, operated by the Penn State Extension Carbon County Master Gardener Program.

Members of the group will be on-hand from 10 a.m. to noon every Tuesday from now until October on the "Green Line," a telephone helpline that provides answers to questions about everything gardening, from plant diseases and pests and pesticides, to fungus, animal problems, tree issues, soil and more.

Maryann Serafini, Master Gardener volunteer, explained the group decided to create the Green Line last year because there was a need for it in Carbon County.

It went over well with the gardening community and the Master Gardeners decided to keep the program.

She noted that the Green Line is starting earlier than last year because of the warmer winter Carbon County experienced.

"People are getting ready to plant," she said.

John Kupec, Master Gardener volunteer, added that planters can begin some types of vegetable seedlings now indoors; but cautions at planting outdoors yet because the soil is not ready to be turned.

"It's too wet now," he said, noting that it is ready to turn when it crumbles when squeezed.

Julie V. Foley, Master Gardener volunteer, explained that some of the problems the group is anticipating this year because of the warm weather are fungal problems, ticks and other insects, and premature flowering on fruit trees.

The group also stresses the importance of getting samples of insects, soil or plants so if the Master Gardeners needs to see it for identification, it is available.

Serafini said that they have a new digital microscope to help identify items, but if they are unable to, the sample will be sent to Penn State University for identification.

Services on soil testing are also available through Penn State, which reads the soil sample and identifies what needs to be done to it to make it balanced and good for planting.

The Green Line is open on Tuesdays by calling the Penn State Extension office at (570) 325-2788, but if a person is unable to call during that time, they can call in at other times of the week, when the helpline is not open, and leave a message. Someone from the Master Gardener program will then return your call. Gardeners with questions can also email CarbonMG@ag.psu.edu [1] or find Carbon County Master Gardeners on Facebook.

The Penn State Extension – Carbon County Master Gardener Program is a group of volunteers who have training in various areas of vegetation and provide service to the community through educational programs and other events, such as composting, planting, and insect identification.

For more information on the Master Gardener program or how to become a master gardener, visit http://extension.psu.edu/master-gardener [2].